Reality of server virtualization and cost reduction

Is your company ever facing the challenge of effectively managing the servers and infrastructure growth? Is server virtualization been shown to you as the only resolution to overcome the problem along with the Green IT concept? Sadly in Sri Lanka Green IT concept is not widely being adopted even though reducing $$$ really makes sense for us 🙂

So most of us has been hearing about server virtualization offered by various vendors. (Microsoft, VMware, Citrix….etc) but in order for a company to move to a virtualization road what are the facts need to be considered. Let’s look at some of the key facts,

1. Reducing cost – At a glance this seems to be the biggest favor factor. Server consolidation of 3:1,  2:1 and even 10:1 or more. But the missing picture is this true to my company? Can I really archive that kind of consolidation ratio? This is a question need to be ask from your IT department. How can I know which servers are the best candidates to consolidate? Depend on the answers we’re getting out of that, companies need to decide virtualization strategy.

2. Power / Cooling saving – These are some of the direct benefit of the virtualization. Reduce the server for print in your data center will lead for you to spend less money on the power and data center cooling.  

3. Standardization / Compliance – These are some of the indirect benefits companies can achieve. System administrators will be able to better manage server operating systems and applications in the virtualizations systems by using system management products. Bringing the entire data centers into standardized environment will bring better Service Management and also will help companies to compliance with industry regulations.

Looking at a glance we have so many advantages moving to server consolidation and better utilization of existing hardware through server virtualization. So what is the catch the hidden untold story of the server virtualization?

1. Possible candidates -Identify the server which can be virtualized. Not all the servers in your company can be virtualized immediately. First rule is to identify the servers which can be virtualized. MAPS (Microsoft Assessment and Planning Service Toolkit) is a good tool for this job. MAPS is a tool beyond server virtualization identification. Check for your self on the MS web site 🙂

2. Availability- When you have separate physical servers to run your company application loosing one server is not a major problem for you. Once you do the server consolidation of 3:1 what if the only physical server holding that 3 server roles goes down? How that will impact the company overall functionality? Not a happy picture right? Server availability is a critical factor to be overseen when it comes to server virtualization. Plan well ahead how you going to protect those servers from failures. This is a part not being added to the $$$ but need to be given careful attention. Additional hardware or backup hardware or software attention must be given,
    Server virtualization not always going to utilize your existing servers. As I have seen in our market most of the companies are still having 5-6 old servers in production. You’ll need to invest on new hardware. Better of all have a god planning on how to recover from one physical server which host several servers.

3. Server sprawling -  Creating virtual servers unnecessary or with less control to mange the overall environment will lead to this. Fortunately this is not a question or as situation our market will lead now 🙂
Once you have move into the virtualization road you have to have better control of what server how and where you create them. Server virtualization will loosen the bond of operating system with physical servers. If you’re not careful enough you’ll end up creating unnecessary number of virtual servers and resource wastages instead of resource saving. Fortunately VMware center, SCVMM is there for the help but end of the day ultimate control is with humans who are vulnerable for making mistakes 🙂

4. Cost – Virtualization will itself is not going to bring immediate ROI if you didn’t plan well but another over burden to our IT budget. Additional storage cost, network equipment, servers….etc you name it cost will go if you didn’t identify the above mention goals properly. Know what you need to virtualized and how to protect them as well.

So where we end up on server virtualization? How can SMB, SME or Enterprise enjoy this technology? Number one rule is take time for careful planning. Use the given free tools to better understand your environment and plan the resources well ahead. Virtualization is not only limited to server side so you can be carried out by many factors. Know the company business objective and how to drive them with virtualization. None of the above mention facts are to keep you away from virtualization. My honest opinion is virtualization (may it be server, application…..etc) is really good but little bit of extra planning will make your life easier.

Happy virtualization!

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Reality of server virtualization and cost reduction

Is your company ever facing the challenge of effectively managing the servers and infrastructure growth? Is server virtualization been shown to you as the only resolution to overcome the problem along with the Green IT concept? Sadly in Sri Lanka Green IT concept is not widely being adopted even though reducing $$$ really makes sense for us 🙂

So most of us has been hearing about server virtualization offered by various vendors. (Microsoft, VMware, Citrix….etc) but in order for a company to move to a virtualization road what are the facts need to be considered. Virtualization concept has been expanded from server virtualization to desktop virtualization, application virtualization so a decision maker need to take careful consideration which option is the best for their company to adopt. Let’s look at some of the key facts,

1. Reducing cost – At a glance this seems to be the biggest favor factor. Server consolidation of 3:1,  2:1 and even 10:1 or more. But the missing picture is this true to my company? Can I really archive that kind of consolidation ratio? This is a question need to be ask from your IT department. How can I know which servers are the best candidates to consolidate? Depend on the answers we’re getting out of that, companies need to decide virtualization strategy.

2. Power / Cooling saving – These are some of the direct benefit of the virtualization. Reduce the server for print in your data center will lead for you to spend less money on the power and data center cooling.  

3. Standardization / Compliance – These are some of the indirect benefits companies can achieve. System administrators will be able to better manage server operating systems and applications in the virtualizations systems by using system management products. Bringing the entire data centers into standardized environment will bring better Service Management and also will help companies to compliance with industry regulations.

Looking at a glance we have so many advantages moving to server consolidation and better utilization of existing hardware through server virtualization. So what is the catch the hidden untold story of the server virtualization?

1. Possible candidates -Indentify the server which can be virtualized. Not all the servers in your company can be virtualized immediately. First rule is to identify the servers which can be virtualized. MAPS (Microsoft Assessment and Planning Service Toolkit) is a good tool for this job. MAPS is a tool beyond server virtualization identification. Check for your self on the MS web site 🙂

2. Availability- When you have separate physical servers to run your company application loosing one server is not a major problem for you. Once you do the server consolidation of 3:1 what if the only physical server holding that 3 server roles goes down? How that will impact the company overall functionality? Not a happy picture right? Server availability is a critical factor to be overseen when it comes to server virtualization. Plan well ahead how you going to protect those servers from failures. This is a part not being added to the $$$ but need to be given careful attention. Additional hardware or backup hardware or software attention must be given,
    Server virtualization not always going to utilize your existing servers. As I have seen in our market most of the companies are still having 5-6 old servers in production. You’ll need to invest on new hardware. Better of all have a god planning on how to recover from one physical server which host several servers.

3. Server sprawling -  Creating virtual servers unnecessary or with less control to mange the overall environment will lead to this. Fortunately this is not a question or as situation our market will lead now 🙂
Once you have move into the virtualization road you have to have better control of what server how and where you create them. Server virtualization will loosen the bond of operating system with physical servers. If you’re not careful enough you’ll end up creating unnecessary number of virtual servers and resource wastages instead of resource saving. Fortunately VMware center, SCVMM is there for the help but end of the day ultimate control is with humans who are vulnerable for making mistakes 🙂

4. Cost – Virtualization will itself is not going to bring immediate ROI if you didn’t plan well but another over burden to our IT budget. Additional storage cost, network equipment, servers….etc you name it cost will go if you didn’t identify the above mention goals properly. Know what you need to virtualized and how to protect them as well.

So where we end up on server virtualization? How can SMB, SME or Enterprise enjoy this technology? Number one rule is take time for careful planning. Use the given free tools to better understand your environment and plan the resources well ahead. Virtualization is not only limited to server side so you can be carried out by many factors. Know the company business objective and how to drive them with virtualization. None of the above mention facts are to keep you away from virtualization. My honest opinion is virtualization (may it be server, application…..etc) is really good but little bit of extra planning will make your life easier.

Happy virtualization!

windows 2008 Failover cluster setup (101 guide)

Before jumping into the High availability it would be a really good if all of readers can sit on the same level about the clustering technology as well. Recently enough I went through the history of the clustering to get an idea about it, interestingly enough there are lot more than meets the eye on clustering 🙂 Some history info about clustering can be found over here
What is clustering – In its most elementary definition, a server cluster is at least two independent computers that are logically and sometimes physically joined and presented to a network as a single host. That is to say, although each computer (called a node) in a cluster has its own resources, such as CPUs, RAM, hard drives, network cards, etc., the cluster as such is advertised to the network as a single host name with a single Internet Protocol (IP) address. As far as network users are concerned, the cluster is a single server, not a rack of two, four, eight or however many nodes comprise the cluster resource group.

Why cluster – Availability:  Avoids problems resulting from systems failures.
                    Scalability: Additional systems can be added as needs increase.
                    Lower Cost:  Supercomputer power at commodity prices.

What are the cluster types

  • Distributed Processing Clusters
    • Used to increase the speed of  large computational tasks
    • Tasks are broken down and worked on by many small systems rather than one large
    • system (parallel processing).
    • Often deployed for tasks previously handled only by supercomputers.
    • Used for scientific or financial analysis.
  • Failover Clusters
    • Used to increase the availability and serviceability of network services.
    • A given application runs on only one of the nodes, but each node can run one or more applications.
    • Each node or application has a unique identity visible to the “outside world.”
    • When an application or node fails, its services are migrated to another node.
    • The identity of the failed node is also migrated.
    • Works with most applications as long as they are scriptable.
    • Used for database servers, mail servers or file servers.
  • High Availability Load Balancing Clusters
    • Used to increase the availability, serviceability and scalability of network services.
    • A given application runs on all of the nodes and a given node can host multiple applications.
    • The “outside world” interacts with the cluster and individual nodes are “hidden.”
    • Large cluster pools are supported.
    • When a node or service fails, it is removed from the cluster.  No failover is necessary.
    • Applications do not need to be specialized, but HA clustering works best with stateless applications that can be run concurrently.
    • Systems do not need to be homogeneous.
    • Used for web servers, mail servers or FTP servers.

Now coming back into the Microsoft clustering clustering it goes back to good old NT 4.0 era with the code name “wolf pack” After that  Microsoft clustering technology came all the way step by step growing and improving. Windows 2000 period giving the confidence for customers on the stability of the Microsoft clustering technology. If there are filed engineers who have configured the Windows 2003 clustering will know the painful steps they have to follow configure the clustering. When it comes to Windows 2003 R2 Microsoft offered various tools and wizards to make the clustering process less painful process to engineers. If you’re planning to configure windows 2003 clustering one place you definitely look into is this site.

Now we’re in the windows 2008 era and clustering has been improved dramatically in the configuration side and as well as in the stability wise. Windows 2008 clustering has given the code name as “Windows failover clustering

As I always have been updating the audience in public sessions clustering is no longer going to be a technology focus by Enterprise market. Clustering can be utilized by SMB and SME market as well with a fraction of the cost.  As usual I will be focusing on the HYPER-V  and how combine with clustering can help the users to get the maximum benefits out for virtualization and high availability. HYPER-V  been Microsoft flagship technology for the virtualization. It’s a 100% bare metal hyper visor technology. There are lot of misguided conception on HYPE-V is not a true hypervisor, the main argument point highlighted is you need to have windows 2008 to run the HYPER-V. This is wrong!!! You can setup on the HYPER-V hyper visor software in bare metal server and setup the virtual pc’s. HYPER-V only free version can be download from here. Comparisons on HYPER-V can be found over here.

So now we have somewhat idea about the clustering technology so how can it applied to the HYPER-V environment and have a high available virtual environment? We’ll have a look at a recommended setup for this scenario,

Hyper-v-3

According to the picture we’ll need 2 physical servers. We’ll call them Host1 and Host2. Each host must 64bit and have Virtualization supported processor. Apart from that Microsoft recommended to have the certified hardware. Base on my knowledge I would say minimum environment should be as follows,

1. Branded servers with Intel Xeon Quad core processor. (better 2 have 2 sockets M/B for future expansion.)
2. 8 GB memory and minimum 3 nics. always better to have additional nics.
3. 2*76 GB SAS or SATA HDD for the Host operating system.
4. SAN Storage. (Just hold there folks, there are easy way to solve this expensive matter….:)

Now the above system has the full capability to handle decent amount workload. Now the configuration part 🙂 I’ll try to summarize the steps along with additional tips when necessary. Following steps will help you to configure a Windows 2008 File server cluster. HYPER-V high availability will be followed the same steps. Due to hardware limitation I have decided to demonstrate Windows 2008 File server clustering.

1. Install windows 2008 Enterprise or Datacenter edition to each Host computer. Make sure both of them get the latest updates and both host will have same updates for all the software.

2. Go ahead and install the HYPER-v role.

3. Configure the NIC’s accordingly. taking one host as the example NIC configuration will be as follows,
    a) One NIC will be connected to your production environment. So you can add the IP, DG, SB and DNS
    b) Second NIC will be the heartbeat connection between the 2 host servers. So add IP address and the SB only. Make sure it will be totally     different IP class.
    c) Third NIC will be configured to communicate with the SAN storage. I’m assuming we’ll be using iSCSI over IP.

4. Now for the SAN storage you can go ahead and buy the expensive SAN storage for HP, DELL or EMC (no offence with me guys 🙂 ) but their are customers who can’t afford that price tag. For them the good new is you can convert your existing servers into a SAN storage. We’re talking about converting you’re existing x86 systems into Software based SAN storage which use iSCSI protocol. There are third party companies which provide software for this. Personally I prefer StarWind iSCSI software.
So all you have to do is add enough HDD space to your server and then using the third party iSCSI software convert your system to SAN storage. This will be the central storage for the two HYPER-V  enabled host computers.

4. Go ahead and create the necessary storage at the SAN server. How to create the cluster quorum disk and other disk storage will be available from the relevant storage vendor documentation. When it comes to quorum disk try to make it 512MB if possible but most SAN storage won’t allow you to create a LUN below 1024 MB so in that case act accordingly. (Anyway here goes few steps how to create relevant disks under StarWind)

Starwind-2 Starwind-3 Starwind-7

Starwind-8 Starwind-10

5. Go to one host computer and then add the Clustering feature.

Cluster feature

6. Go to the iSCSI initiator in the Host1 and then connect to the SAN storage.  As seen on the picture click add portal and enter the IP address of SAN storage.  One connected it’ll show the relevant disk mappings. (That easy in Windows 2008 R2 now)

iscsi-vista-initiator

iSCSI-4 iscsi-win7-init

7. Once that complete go to Disk management and unitize the disk and format them and assign drive letters accordingly. (Eg: Drive letter Q for Quorum disk…etc)

12-21-2009 5-01-46 PM 12-21-2009 5-02-03 PM 12-21-2009 5-02-40 PM

12-21-2009 5-05-07 PM

8. Go to Host2 open iSCSI imitator and add the SAN storage. Go to Disk management and add the same drive letters to the disks as configured on Host1.

9. Go to cluster configuration and start setting up the cluster. One cool thing about Windows 2008 cluster setup is cluster validation wizard. It will do a serious of configuration checkup to make sure if you have configured the cluster setup steps correctly. This wizard is a must and you need to keep this report safely in case if you need to get Microsoft support or a technical personas support. One the cluster validation completed we can go ahead add the cluster role. In this case we’ll be selecting File Server as our cluster role.

12-21-2009 5-11-18 PM 12-21-2009 5-11-40 PM 12-21-2009 5-11-46 PM

12-21-2009 5-12-08 PM 12-21-2009 5-17-54 PM 12-21-2009 5-20-38 PM

10.  Once the cluster validation is completed, go ahead and create a cluster service. In this demonstration I’ll use clustered file server feature.

12-21-2009 5-25-35 PM 12-21-2009 5-25-51 PM

Go ahead and give a cluster administration name for the cluster, and after that select a disk for the shared storage. for this we’ll use a disk created in the SAN storage,

12-21-2009 5-26-21 PM 12-21-2009 5-27-07 PM 12-21-2009 5-29-49 PM

11. Once that step is completed you’ll be back in the cluster management console. Now you’ll be able to see the cluster server name you’re created. So we have created cluster but still we didn’t share any storage. Now we’ll go ahead and create shared folder an assign few files so users can see them,

12-21-2009 5-35-20 PM 12-21-2009 5-35-57 PM 12-21-2009 5-37-16 PM

12-21-2009 5-39-01 PM 12-21-2009 5-40-23 PM

Now once we login from a client PC we can type the UNC path and access the shared data in the clustered file server 🙂

12-21-2009 5-54-10 PM 12-21-2009 5-55-24 PM

Phew…!! that was a long article I’ have every written 🙂 Ok I guess by now you’ll have the idea Windows 2008 clustering is not very complicated if you have the right tools and the resources. Now that is the out layer internally to secure the environment we’ll need to consider about either CHAP authentications, IPSec…etc. Since this is 101 article i kept everything is simple manner.

Let me know your comments (good or bad)about the article so I’ll be able to provide better information which will be helpful for you all.

Windows 2008 Failover Clustering setup (101 guide)

Before jumping into the High availability it would be a really good if all of readers can sit on the same seat about the clustering technology as well. Recently enough I went through the history of the clustering to get and idea about it, interestingly enough there are lot more than meets the eye on clustering 🙂 Some history info about clustering can be found over here

What is clustering – In its most elementary definition, a server cluster is at least two independent computers that are logically and sometimes physically joined and presented to a network as a single host. That is to say, although each computer (called a node) in a cluster has its own resources, such as CPUs, RAM, hard drives, network cards, etc., the cluster as such is advertised to the network as a single host name with a single Internet Protocol (IP) address. As far as network users are concerned, the cluster is a single server, not a rack of two, four, eight or however many nodes comprise the cluster resource group.

Why cluster – Availability:  Avoids problems resulting from systems failures.
                    Scalability: Additional systems can be added as needs increase.
                    Lower Cost:  Supercomputer power at commodity prices.

What are the cluster types

  • Distributed Processing Clusters
    • Used to increase the speed of  large computational tasks
    • Tasks are broken down and worked on by many small systems rather than one large
    • system (parallel processing).
    • Often deployed for tasks previously handled only by supercomputers.
    • Used for scientific or financial analysis.
  • Failover Clusters
    • Used to increase the availability and serviceability of network services.
    • A given application runs on only one of the nodes, but each node can run one or more applications.
    • Each node or application has a unique identity visible to the “outside world.”
    • When an application or node fails, its services are migrated to another node.
    • The identity of the failed node is also migrated.
    • Works with most applications as long as they are scriptable.
    • Used for database servers, mail servers or file servers.
  • High Availability Load Balancing Clusters
    • Used to increase the availability, serviceability and scalability of network services.
    • A given application runs on all of the nodes and a given node can host multiple applications.
    • The “outside world” interacts with the cluster and individual nodes are “hidden.”
    • Large cluster pools are supported.
    • When a node or service fails, it is removed from the cluster.  No failover is necessary.
    • Applications do not need to be specialized, but HA clustering works best with stateless applications that can be run concurrently.
    • Systems do not need to be homogeneous.
    • Used for web servers, mail servers or FTP servers.

Now coming back into the Microsoft clustering clustering goes back to good old NT 4.0 era with the code name “wolf pack” All this time it came all the way step by step growing and shine on Windows 2000 period giving the confidence for customers on the stability of the Microsoft clustering technology. If there are filed engineers who have configured the Windows 2003 clustering will know the painful steps they have to take to configure the clustering Steps are very lengthy. When it comes to Windows 2003 R2 Microsoft offered various tools and wizards to make the clustering process less painful process to for engineers. If you’re planning to configure windows 2003 clustering one place you definitely look into is this site.

Now we’re in the windows 2008 era and clust4ering has been improved dramatically in the configuration side and as well as in the stability wise. New names for the clustering goes as “Windows failover clustering

As I have been updating the audience in public sessions clustering is no longer going to be a technology focus by Enterprise market. Clustering can be utilized by SMB and SME market as well with a fraction of the cost.  As usual I will be focusing on the HYPER-V  and how combine with clustering can help the users to get the maximum benefits out for virtualization and high availability. HYPER-V  been Microsoft flagship technology for the virtualization. It’s a 100% bare metal hyper visor technology. There are lot of misguided conception on HYPE-V is not a true hypervisor, the main argument point highlighted is you need to have windows 2008 to run the HYPER-V. This is wrong!!! You can setup on the HYPER-V hyper visor software in bare metal server and setup the virtual pc’s. HYPER-V only free version can be download from here. Comparisons on HYPER-V can be found over here.

So now we have somewhat idea about the clustering technology so how can it applied to the HYPER-V environment and have a high available virtual environment? We’ll have a look at a recommended setup for this scenario,

Hyper-v-3

According to the picture we’ll need 2 physical servers. We’ll call them Host1 and Host2. Each host must 64bit and have Vitalization supported processor. Apart from that Microsoft recommended to have certified hardware by MS. so base on my knowledge I would say ideal environment should be as follows,

1. Branded servers with Intel Xeon Quad core processor. (better 2 have 2 sockets M/B for future expansion.)
2. 8 GB memory and minimum 3 nics. always better to have additional nics.
3. 2*76 GB SAS or SATA HDD for the Host operating system.
4. SAN Storage. (Just hold there folks, there are easy way to solve this expensive matter….:)

 

 

 

Now the above system has the full capability to handle decent amount workload. Now the configuration part 🙂 I’ll try to summarize the steps along with additional tips when necessary,

1. Install windows 2008 Enterprise or Datacenter edition to each Host computer. Make sure both of them get the latest updates and both host will have same updates for all the software.

2. Go ahead and install the HYPER-v role.

3. Configure the NIC’s accordingly. taking one host as the example NIC configuration will be as follows,
    a) One NIC will be connected to your production environment. So you can add the IP, DG, SB and DNS
    b) Second NIC will be the heartbeat connection between the 2 host servers. So add IP address and the SB only. Make sure it will be totally     different IP class.
    c) Third NIC will be configured to communicate with the SAN storage. I’m assuming we’ll be using iSCSI over IP.

4. Now for the SAN storage you can go ahead and buy the expensive SAN storage for HP, DELL or EMC (no offence with me guys 🙂 ) but their are customers who can’t afford that price tag. For them the good new is you can convert your existing servers into a SAN storage. We’re talking about converting you’re existing x86 systems into Software based SAN storage which use iSCSI protocol. There are third party companies which provide software for this. Personally I prefer StarWind iSCSI software.
So all you have to do is add enough HDD space to your server and then using the third party iSCSI software convert your system to SAN storage. This will be the central storage for the two HYPER-V  enabled host computers.

4. Go ahead and create the necessary storage at the SAN server. How to create the cluster quorum disk and other disk storage will be available from the relevant storage vendor documentation. When it comes to quorum disk try to make it 512MB if possible but most SAN storage won’t allow you to create a LUN below 1024 MB so in that case act accordingly. (Anyway here goes few steps how to create relevant disks under StarWind)

Starwind-2 Starwind-3 Starwind-7

Starwind-8 Starwind-10

5. Go to one host computer and then add the Clustering feature.

Cluster feature

6. Go to the iSCSI initiator in the Host1 and then connect to the SAN storage.  As seen on the picture click add portal and enter the IP address of SAN storage.  One connected it’ll show the relevant disk mappings. (That easy in Windows 2008 R2 now)

iscsi-vista-initiator

iSCSI-4 iscsi-win7-init

7. Once that complete go to Disk management and unitize the disk and format them and assign drive letters accordingly. (Eg: Drive letter Q for Quorum disk…etc)

12-21-2009 5-01-46 PM 12-21-2009 5-02-03 PM 12-21-2009 5-02-40 PM

12-21-2009 5-05-07 PM

8. Go to Host2 open iSCSI imitator and add the SAN storage. Go to Disk management and add the same drive letters to the disks as configured on Host1.
   

9. Go to cluster configuration and start setting up the cluster. One cool thing about Windows 2008 cluster setup is cluster validation wizard. It will do a serious of configuration checkup to make sure if you have configured the cluster setup steps correctly. This wizard is a must and you need to keep this report safely in case if you need to get Microsoft support or a technical personas support. One the cluster validation completed we can go ahead add the cluster role. In this case we’ll be selecting File Server as our cluster role.

12-21-2009 5-11-18 PM 12-21-2009 5-11-40 PM 12-21-2009 5-11-46 PM

12-21-2009 5-12-08 PM 12-21-2009 5-17-54 PM 12-21-2009 5-20-38 PM

10.  Once the cluster validation is completed, go ahead and create a cluster service. In this demonstration I’ll use clustered file server feature.

12-21-2009 5-25-35 PM 12-21-2009 5-25-51 PM

Go ahead and give a cluster administration name for the cluster, and after that select a disk for the shared storage. for this we’ll use a disk created in the SAN storage,

12-21-2009 5-26-21 PM 12-21-2009 5-27-07 PM 12-21-2009 5-29-49 PM

11. Once that step is completed you’ll be back in the cluster management console. Now you’ll be able to see the cluster server name you’re created. So we have created cluster but still we didn’t share any storage. Now we’ll go ahead and create shared folder an assign few files so users can see them,

12-21-2009 5-35-20 PM 12-21-2009 5-35-57 PM 12-21-2009 5-37-16 PM

12-21-2009 5-39-01 PM 12-21-2009 5-40-23 PM

 Now once we login from a client PC we can type the UNC path and access the shared data in the clustered file server 🙂

12-21-2009 5-54-10 PM 12-21-2009 5-55-24 PM

Phew…!! that was a long article I’ have every written 🙂 Ok I guess by now you’ll have the idea Windows 2008 clustering is not very complicated if you have the right tools and the resources. Now that is the out layer internally to secure the environment we’ll need to consider about either CHAP authentications, IPSec…etc. Since this is 101 article i kept everything is simple manner.

Let me know your comments (good or bad)about the article so I’ll be able to provide better information which will be helpful for you all.

Upgrading your Domain controllers to Windows 2008 or Windows 2008 R2

So you have been running on Windows 2000 or Windows 2003 AD environment for quite some time and prefer a change. Windows 2008 has been out there for almost 16 months now, including the release of Windows 2008 R2. In this article we’ll discuss some of the key facts you need to consider before you jump into upgrade process and some of the pit falls you need to avoid.

What are the upgrade options available for me?

In-Place upgrade – In this method you can upgrade your existing server to Windows 2008 or Windows 2008 R2. But the key thing is you can’t in-place upgrade your windows 2000. You need to upgrade that to Windows 2003. (Do you really need to install windows 2008 on that old hardware 🙂 There are few caveats you need to take into consideration before going this path,

  • The Windows Server 2003 patch level should be at least Service Pack 1
  • You can’t upgrade across architectures (x86, x64 & Itanium)
  • Standard Edition can be upgraded to both Standard and Enterprise Edition
  • Enterprise Edition van be upgraded to Enterprise Edition only
  • Datacenter Edition van be upgraded to Datacenter Edition only

Apart from that consider your Domain and Forest functional level as well. In windows 2008 R2 you’ll have some cool roles and features but to get that you need to upgrade the functional levels to R2. Consider the following facts.

Transitioning – Migrating this method means you’ll be adding Windows Server 2008 Domain Controllers to your existing Active Directory environment. After that migrate the FSMO roles to the new server and safely demote the existing windows 2003 domain controllers. You’ll have to purchase new hardware for this. In case if you’re planning to use your existing hardware then temporary you’ll have to bring a new server with windows 2008 to get the roles transferred. Few things to remember at that time is,

  • Global Catalog availability
  • Enable your new 2008 DCs as DNS servers (if using Microsoft DNS)
  • PDC Emulator sync with external time source
  • Ensure the demotion of your existing DCs is fully replicated to all your other DCs before promoting the replacement (if re-using the same name and IP address).
  • Changes to your backup and recovery procedures
  • Anti-virus software compatibility with 2008
    Monitoring software compatibility with 2008
  • Any other services/applications running on your existing DCs (e.g. CA, WINS, DHCP, File and Print).
  • Applications and systems that may be impacted during the outage of your DCs during the demotion/promotion (i.e. those that may be hard-coded to the name or IP address).

Transitioning is possible for Active Directory environments which domain functional level is at least Windows 2000 Native. In a way this is my favorite method considering the risky method of in-place upgrade.

Restructuring – In this method you’re going to create a total different domain and transfer the existing domain details (Eg: user accounts, passwords, profiles…etc) to the new domain. One good example is when a company having two or three domains and they wanted to merge to a one domain name. Microsoft ADMT is one of the useful tool in this scenario(Active Directory Migration Tool) Apart from that there are third party tools available to this kind of transition.

when it comes to upgrade your domain environment careful planning is vital in the beginning to avoid unnecessary problems which can be lead to un-reversible. So take good time to read the documentation and do the lab environment tests. Here is a one good article which can give you some useful information.

PM me if you need any assistance on migrating your company domain environment to windows 2008

Upgrading your Domain controllers to Windows 2008 or Windows 2008 R2

So you have been running on Windows 2000 or Windows 2003 AD environment for quite some time and prefer a change. Windows 2008 has been out there for almost 16 months now, including the release of Windows 2008 R2. In this article we’ll discuss some of the key facts you need to consider before you jump into upgrade process and some of the pit falls you need to avoid.

What are the upgrade options available for me?

In-Place upgrade – In this method you can upgrade your existing server to Windows 2008 or Windows 2008 R2. But the key thing is you can’t in-place upgrade your windows 2000. You need to upgrade that to Windows 2003. (Do you really need to install windows 2008 on that old hardware 🙂 There are few caveats you need to take into consideration before going this path,

  • The Windows Server 2003 patch level should be at least Service Pack 1
  • You can’t upgrade across architectures (x86, x64 & Itanium)
  • Standard Edition can be upgraded to both Standard and Enterprise Edition
  • Enterprise Edition van be upgraded to Enterprise Edition only
  • Datacenter Edition van be upgraded to Datacenter Edition only

Apart from that consider your Domain and Forest functional level as well. In windows 2008 R2 you’ll have some cool roles and features but to get that you need to upgrade the functional levels to R2. Consider the following facts.

Transitioning – Migrating this method means you’ll be adding Windows Server 2008 Domain Controllers to your existing Active Directory environment. After that migrate the FSMO roles to the new server and safely demote the existing windows 2003 domain controllers. You’ll have to purchase new hardware for this. In case if you’re planning to use your existing hardware then temporary you’ll have to bring a new server with windows 2008 to get the roles transferred. Few things to remember at that time is,

  • Global Catalog availability
  • Enable your new 2008 DCs as DNS servers (if using Microsoft DNS)
  • PDC Emulator sync with external time source
  • Ensure the demotion of your existing DCs is fully replicated to all your other DCs before promoting the replacement (if re-using the same name and IP address).
  • Changes to your backup and recovery procedures
  • Anti-virus software compatibility with 2008
    Monitoring software compability with 2008
  • Any other services/applications running on your existing DCs (e.g. CA, WINS, DHCP, File and Print).
  • Applications and systems that may be impacted during the outage of your DCs during the demotion/promotion (i.e. those that may be hard-coded to the name or IP address).

Transitioning is possible for Active Directory environments which domain functional level is at least Windows 2000 Native. In a way this is my favorite method considering the risky method of in-place upgrade.

Restructuring – In this method you’re going to create a total different domain and transfer the existing domain details (Eg: user accounts, passwords, profiles…etc) to the new domain. One good example is when a company having two or three domains and they wanted to merge to a one domain name. Microsoft ADMT is one of the useful tool in this scenario(Active Directory Migration Tool) Apart from that there are third party tools available to this kind of transition.

when it comes to upgrade your domain environment careful planning is vital in the beginning to avoid unnecessary problems which can be lead to un-reversible. So take good time to read the documentation and do the lab environment tests. Here is a one good article which can give you some useful information.

PM me if you need any assistance on migrating your company domain environment to windows 2008

Better together with Windows 2008 R2 and Windows 7

Few weeks back I had the privilege to conduct a session on Windows 2008 R2 and it’s new features. This session has been combined with Windows 7 and it’s new features. Windows 7 session has been conducted by Sabeshan. He is one of the Microsoft Certified Trainer in NetAssist.

We have conducted this session to audience who comes from filed engineer to IT manger level. So instead being too techie of the product features we highlighted the technology and how they can implement and get quick ROI from their network. When it comes to new technology some companies are slow adaptors and especially with few Enterprise companies. With Business perspective side there are few reasons for that. We wanted to break that barrier and demonstrate how effectively they can use the technology and get their expectations with less complex setup. Though we didn’t went on deep technical level on that day our future sessions will be deep dive into each product feature with live demonstrations.

We kept on demonstrating Windows 7 bit locker features, VHD boot up, Windows 2008 Active Directory Administrative Center, Recycle bin, PowerShell, Group Policy new feature usage….etc. Direct access could have been preferred one but with limited time frame I had to keep that away for a later time.

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Well there will be no fun without some introduction on Microsoft licensing 🙂 So we introduce one of Sri Lanka’s distributor as well to do some introduction. So keep in touch guys for more updates on future sessions. Some of the contents has been uploaded to the NetAssist training institute web site which can be reached from following links,

http://netassist.com.lk/windows7.html